Is it possible to change your partner… and do you have to?

by Adedayo Ademuwagun

A lot of people think women are more likely than men to try changing their partner. There’s even a saying that women marry men hoping they’ll change but men marry women hoping they won’t change. How true is this?

One blogger writes, “A professional psychologist once told us during a therapy session that it’s normal for women to try to change their men, and everyone agreed it was a wonderful thing. The women said it’s good that they ‘improve’ their men, and the men expressed gratitude for how much their wives had ‘improved’ them. They felt they had become better people thanks to their wives’ efforts.”

Some men try to change their women too.

Aminu says, “When I first met Funke, I thought she was a nice lady but sometimes I found her dressing a bit inappropriate. It used to make me feel uncomfortable if I could see her breasts in her top or if her gown was too short, and I would tell her how I felt in the hope that she’ll try to change. I think it’s best for both of us if she dresses appropriately.”

Some people resent it when their partner tries to change something about them. They insist that they want to accepted for who they are and that they’re not interested in being turned into someone else. But if your partner wants you to lose some fat, change your spending habits, or spend more time at home with the kids, shouldn’t you cooperate? What do you do when your partner tries to change you?

Chigozie says, “It depends on what she wants to change about me and the approach she adopts. For instance, I’m averse to going to parties. But my girlfriend’s the kind of girl who thinks she has to be at the wedding of every one of her friends. So she thinks I’m weird and need to loosen up. But that’s just not who I am or who I ever want to be.”

Grace says too, “My husband grew a potbelly after we married — and I hate potbellies. I keep telling him that he needs to quit drinking and start working out, but he thinks I’m just talking ‘like a woman.’ He’s not taking it seriously.”

People often find that they have two choices really. They either put up with what they don’t like about their partner and stop trying to change them, or they keep trying to get them to change. Some people even say that their partner can’t change. But this is not correct.

It’s defeatist to think that someone cannot change just because it seems so. Anyone can change. People can make any change to their life if they have the right help and motivation. They can become more tidy, they can quit womanising, they can take things that matter more seriously, and they can be whatever they want. They just need to have the right motivation and help.

Segun says, “I tell my fiancée that if she needs me to do something or change anything, she just needs to show me that I NEED to do it. For instance at first I told her I can’t split the chores with her. But then she gently persuaded me for some time and let me know how much it would make her happy if I help her.

So now I try to make myself useful every now and then when she’s cooking. I think the thought of making her happy was a strong enough motivation for me. In relationship, couples should expect to change each other and make each other more like the right person that they want for each other.”

“I can do with a potbelly,” says Grace. “But if a person has a habit that totally offends you and violates your core values, you should probably walk away. For instance, if a person you’re in love with is irresponsible or promiscuous or physically abusive before marriage, and you absolutely cannot put up with this, then you better walk away. They could change if they want to, but then it’s up to them. Some things are harder to change than others. Remember it depends on if they want to change, not if YOU want them to change.”

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